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More Guilty Pleas in Massive Enfield Pharmaceutical Heist


Two Florida men accused of stealing about $80 million worth of prescription drugs in what's largely considered the largest theft in Connecticut history have pleaded guilty to felony charges.

Yosmany Nunez, Alexander Marquez, Rafael Lopez, Amed Villa and his brother Amaury Villa have been charged in the 2010 heist at the Eli Lilly Company warehouse in Enfield.

Nunez, 42, and Marquez, 41, pleaded guilty in court Wednesday. The Villa brothers have also pleaded guilty to the crime, federal prosecutors said.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, the suspects brought a ladder to the warehouse the night of March 3, 2010, propped it up against the building, climbed onto the roof and cut a hole.

The men then dropped down into the warehouse and disabled the building's alarm. They loaded more than 40 pallets of prescription drugs – including thousands of boxes of Zyprexa, Cymbalta, Prozac, Gemzar and other pills worth tens of millions of dollars – into the back of a tractor-trailer, prosecutors said.

Authorities discovered the stolen drugs in a Florida storage facility more than a year later.

Enfield police chief Carl Sferrazza called the heist "the largest theft we've ever had, not only in Enfield, but probably the largest pharmaceutical theft the country has ever seen."

U.S. Attorney David Fein said Amed Villa left behind a water bottle that helped lead investigators to the suspects.

Nunez and Marquez, both Cuban citizens, were arrested on April 17 of this year. Prosecutors said Nunez is behind bars and Marquez has been released on $200,000 bond.

They'll be sentenced in February 2015 and could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Abduction Suspect's Criminal Past


Delvin Barnes, the man accused of abducting Carlesha Freeland Gaither off a Philadelphia street, has an extensive criminal history, including one incident in which he held his estranged wife captive, according to court documents. Police said the "vicious predator" is also a suspect in the abduction and rape of a Virginia teenager.

Barnes, 37, was arrested along the side of a road in Jessup, Maryland, Wednesday, officials said. Freeland-Gaither, the nurse’s aide he allegedly kidnapped Sunday, was rescued from his car at the same location and taken to a nearby hospital in Columbia, Maryland.

Barnes, who has ties to Philadelphia and Virginia, is being held on a bench warrant out of Virginia for alleged capital attempted murder in Charles City County. He will be charged federally in connection to Freeland-Gaither’s kidnapping, police said.

Lamar Barnes, Delvin Barnes' uncle, told NBC10 his nephew's father is a minister and he was raised by good parents. Despite this, he also told NBC10 he isn't "necessarily surprised" by the allegations against his nephew.

"Some men grew up having problems with women so they take it out on women," Barnes said. "Apparently, he's one of them."

Court documents reveal Barnes has a lengthy criminal history, including an incident several years ago in which he held his estranged wife captive inside her Philadelphia home.

On Nov. 28, 2005, Barnes’ estranged wife returned to her home around 9:45 p.m., according to court records. Officials said she had a protective order against Barnes due to past abuse.

As she was going to bed around 10:15 p.m., Barnes jumped out of her bedroom closet and tried to talk to her. She then told him to leave or she would call police but Barnes refused, according to court records.

As she went to call 911, Barnes jumped on top of her, grabbed her face and began digging his nails into her skin. He then hit her in the face, choked her and allegedly threatened to kill her.

Barnes then allegedly told her he’d only stop beating her if she took off her clothes. The woman told police she removed her clothes, fearing for her life. She accused Barnes of forcing her to have sex with him three separate times throughout the night. She also told police Barnes forced her to give him oral sex and threatened her with several objects, according to the documents.

The next morning, the woman begged Barnes to let her use the phone and call her parents, telling him she talked to her mother everyday, officials said. As she spoke to her mom, she was able to indicate she was in trouble and told her mother to call 911, according to investigators.

A short time later, the woman’s mother and father walked into the home. As he heard them come in, Barnes, enraged, began to beat the victim again. The victim’s father ran into the room with a baseball bat and tried to get Barnes off his daughter. Barnes then began to beat the victim’s mother, ran into the kitchen and grabbed a knife.

The woman and her parents then ran to a neighbor’s home and called 911 as Barnes fled the scene, police said.

The next day, on Nov. 30, Barnes was found by officers patrolling the area. He was arrested after he tried to flee.

According to court records, Barnes was found guilty of aggravated assault, criminal trespassing, false imprisonment, simple assault, reckless endangerment and other offenses in relation to the incident. He was found not guilty of rape, unlawful restraint, burglary and attempted involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.

Barnes was also arrested in Virginia in July and accused of making a bomb threat, which is a felony. That charge was amended to trespassing, a misdemeanor, and the case finally dropped on Oct. 24, court records show.

Authorities later issued a warrant for his arrest related to a teen rape case he was being investigated for in Charles City County, Virginia.

The teen was reported missing back on Oct. 1. Two days later, the girl arrived at a business on Route 106 in Charles City County, Virginia, two miles from Barnes’ home, investigators said. The girl was naked, bleeding and covered in burns from gasoline and bleach, according to police.

Federal authorities said the charges for that case attempted capital murder, assault, malicious injury with acid, forcible rape and other related offenses.

"If he was somebody I didn't know I'd say whatever they do to him is fine," Lamar Barnes said. "He's my nephew, the same thing. What am I gonna do? It's hard for me to accept the viciousness of it." 

Suspect Charged in Violent 2012 Home Invasion, Robbery


Police have arrested one of two men accused of tying up the residents of a New Britain home, threatening them with a pistol and a knife and making off their with bank cards in 2012.

Rakeem Cunningham, 28, of Middletown, was arrested Tuesday in connection with the November 2012 home invasion and robbery.

He and another man, who has not been identified, are accused of breaking into an apartment on Woodland Street in New Britain and tying up two residents while they ransacked the place.

Police said one suspect had a knife and the other had a gun. They stole the residents' ATM cards and made withdrawals from both victims' accounts.

Cunningham was charged with home invasion, first-degree robbery, second-degree larceny, conspiracy to commit robbery and larceny, second-degree unlawful restraint and first-degree threatening.

He was held on a $250,000 bond and was due in court Tuesday.

Man Says Wife Asked to Be Killed


An Alameda, California, man who turned himself in and presented police with evidence that he killed his wife in what he describes as a mercy killing has been charged with murder.

Jerry Canfield, 72, went to police on Oct. 26 to report that he shot his wife, Joann Canfield, also 72, in the head to end her life at her request.

"He was very forthcoming and said he had planned it," Alameda police Lt. Jill Ottaviano said.

They had been married for 37 years, and he killed her to fulfill an agreement that he would end her life if she was "ill to the point of being in constant pain," according to the Oakland Tribune.

Alameda police Officer Alan Kuboyama said in a probable cause statement that Jerry Canfield told police that he and his wife "had previously agreed that if she ever became ill to the point of being in
constant pain, he would kill her."

Canfield's lawyer said there is ample evidence supporting Canfield's claims, including medical documentation and a "dozen red roses" left by her bedside, the newspaper reported.

Kuboyama said when police went to the couple's home they found Joann Canfield in her bed with a gunshot wound to the head.

The Alameda County District Attorney's Office charged Jerry Canfield on Tuesday with murder, as well as a clause alleging he caused his wife's death by discharging a firearm, and he was arraigned later that day.

Neighbor Rod Baker believes Joann may have suffered from dementia, and had been in declining health after suffering a fall in June.

"Never heard one unkind word," Baker said of the couple during an interview with NBC Bay Area. "They were always together. They took care of each other."

Police sergeant Rick Bradley said when Canfield turned himself in, he appeared “very emotional and very remorseful about the incident. He felt what he did was in his wife’s best interest.”

Canfield’s alleged confession comes amid renewed national debate on the right to die, sparked by the decision of Brittany Maynard, 29, to end her life after she was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor. Maynard, who moved to Oregon from the Bay Area, went through with her decision on Saturday, Nov. 1.

Toni Broaddus, the California campaign director for the organization Compassion and Choices said situations like Canfield's "point to the need for good end-of-life care."

"One of the things we’ve learned from the Death With Dignity Law in Oregon state, which we’ve been keeping records on for 17 years, is that when you have a death with dignity law those end-of-life conversations actually increase," Broaddus said.

Canfield is in jail without bail. He is due back in court Nov. 14.

A police spokesperson said authorities would not discuss further details of the case.

Photo Credit: Alameda PD

Ebola Monitoring in NYC Triples


The number of people under "active monitoring" for Ebola symptoms has increased from 117 on Monday to 357 people Wednesday, health officials said.

The vast majority of those being monitored arrived in New York City within the past 21 days from the three Ebola-affected countries, the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation said in a statement.

Others being monitored include the staff caring for Dr. Craig Spencer, the physician being treated for Ebola at Bellevue Hospital, the lab workers who conducted his blood tests and the FDNY EMTs who transported the doctor.

All of those being monitored showed no symptoms but are being checked on out of "an abundance of caution," the statement said.

A second person under quarantine for coming into contact with Spencer will now be also subject to active monitoring because "the individual poses no public threat and is showing no symptoms," health officials said. The person's movements will not be restricted, but the person will be assessed twice a day by city health workers.

His fiancee, Morgan Dixon, was released from the hospital days ago and returned to the couple's Hamilton Heights apartment. She had not developed any sign of the illness, and she was to remain under quarantine at home.

Authorities also said Spencer's condition also continues to improve. The latest good news about Spencer comes just four days after health officials upgraded his condition from "serious but stable" to "stable."

Spencer received a plasma transfusion from the second American Ebola patient, Nancy Writebol, on Oct. 25, according to SIM, the Christian organization that Writebol worked with before she was admitted to Emory University Hospital in August.

Authorities have said Spencer was awake, communicating and undergoing plasma and antiviral therapies, treatments that have been used to treat Ebola patients at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta and at the Nebraska Medical Center.

Crash Cleared on Arrigoni Bridge


A rollover crash caused major traffic delays on the Arrigoni Bridge on the Middletown/Portland line Thursday morning.

The crash has been cleared, but there were residual delays as of 8:30 a.m.

No one was injured.

Route 195 in Storrs Reopens After Wires Fall on Road


Route 195 near Horse Barn Road in Storrs reopened after wires fell on the roadway early Thursday morning.

It's unclear why the wires came down. Connecticut Light and Power responded to make repairs.

The road closed for several hours and reopened at about 7 a.m.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Weary Rivals in SoCal Race Hopeful


The long, divisive road to the 52nd Congressional District seat stretches on for its two weary candidates, incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Peters and former San Diego city councilman Carl DeMaio, as officials prepare Thursday to start counting around 46,000 still-uncounted ballots.

Exhausted by a late election night that left DeMaio leading by just 752 votes, both candidates are trying to put a positive spin on the numbers.

“This is a historically bad night for Democrats, turnout historically low, and the fact that we're even close is a miracle. I think we're going to win this thing," Peters said at a news conference Wednesday evening.

The initial surge of results had DeMaio in the lead, but as the late ballots came in Tuesday night, the trend was in favor of Peters.

But DeMaio was just as confident that his campaign will come out on top.

“I believe when all votes are counted, we will prevail, and I will have the honor of being San Diego’s voice in the U.S. Congress,” he said at a Wednesday morning news conference.

The San Diego County Registrar of Voters says there were 36,000 mail-in ballots and 10,000 provisional ballots from the 52nd District to be counted, and all were sorted Wednesday.

On Thursday, the counting starts on those 46,000 ballots. Both candidates are sending representatives to make sure each vote is counted correctly.

The registrar is expected to release more numbers Thursday evening, and a final winner should be announced Monday.

But even after the ballots were cast, the biting comments remained.

When asked if he is prepared for a recount in the event of a very close final tally, DeMaio replied, “After what Mr. Peters has done in this campaign, I wouldn’t be surprised by anything.”

Peters’ response later in the day: “I think the campaign's over now. We can get past the hard feelings, stop whining. You know, let's just count the votes."

With nothing to do but wait, both candidates had time to reflect on their contentious campaigns and their plans for the future.

DeMaio will be hopping a plane to Washington, D.C., next week to attend the Congressional freshman orientation.

“What I emphasized last night was that my candidacy hopefully is the beginning of the Republican Party becoming more inclusive, of us getting past labels and putting people in boxes,” the gay candidate said.

While DeMaio zeroed in on reforming his own party, Peters said his focus will be reaching across the aisle in the now Republican-led Congress.

"Well the middle is my territory. I don't think there's enough of us who want to be in the middle,” he said. “I think one of the problems with Congress is it's so polarized and what I offer is a promise that I will always work with anybody."

Voters will continue to watch the results of the race closely, but the end of election season brings one thing both sides can be thankful for: no more political ads.

Police ID Suspect in Restaurant Robberies


West Haven police are asking for the public's help in locating a burglary suspect caught on surveillance footage who may have broken into two restaurants and several other businesses in town, police said.

Police have identified Dino Francis, 52, as the suspect they are looking for in connection to burglaries that happened Tuesday at Stowe's Seafood on Beach Street and Savin Rock Roasting Company on Captain Thomas Boulevard in West Haven. The suspect stole food and "expensive seafood meats," according to David Tammaro, of the West Haven Police Department.

"This individual may be responsible for several commercial burglaries in West Haven and may be a suspect in others committed in surrounding towns that fit the same operation style," West Haven police said in a news release

Police said that he may also be connected to two other commercial burglaries in October and noted that surrounding towns reported similar burglary incidents.

Police ask anyone with information to call 203-937-3905 or to contact the police department on its Twitter (@WestHavenPD) or Facebook. Tips can be anonymous.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Police Arrest Third Suspect in Violent Home Invasion


Police have arrested a three men accused of attacking a man and a woman during a violent home invasion on Kenmore Lane in Milford late last month and they are looking for one more.

The most recent suspect arrested on Nov. 5, Thomas Hart, 23, is listed as a resident of the home invaded, according to police. Police arrested Zachary Labbe,  23, and Michael Fox, 21, both of Milford, on Halloween and are looking for Joseph Fox, 26, of Milford.

Police said they received a complaint reporting a home invasion on Oct. 26 and learned that several men the victims knew broke into the home and assaulted them.

The male victim suffered several broken bones and was treated at a local hospital.

The intruders also assaulted the female victim and choked her, but she didn’t need medical attention, police said.

Hart was charged with conspiracy to commit home invasion, conspiracy to commit first-degree assault, conspiracy to commit thrid-degree strangulation, conspiracy to commit third-degree assault and conspiracy to interfere with an emergency call.

Labbe and Michael Fox were both charged with home invasion, first-degree assault, conspiracy to commit home invasion, conspiracy to commit assault in the first degree, conspiracy to commit strangulation in the third degree, conspiracy to commit assault in the third degree and conspiracy to interfere with an emergency call.

Both men were held in lieu of a $250,000 bond and taken to Milford Superior Court to be arraigned on Nov. 3.

Police are asking for the public’s assistance to find the fourth suspected assailant, identified as Joseph Fox, 26, of Milford.

Anyone with information on where to find the other two suspects should call the Milford Police Department at (203) 878-6551 or submit a tip online.

Photo Credit: MIlford Police

Abduction Suspect Wanted for Rape


A profile has begun to emerge of the man accused of snatching Carlesha Freeland-Gaither off a Germantown street, just as she returned home to her family Thursday morning.

Delvin Barnes is already a suspect in the brutal abduction, rape and attempted murder of a Virginia teen just last month, and he spent seven and a half years behind bars after being convicted of attacking his estranged wife.

“He has a very extensive criminal history,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey told the "Today" show. “A violent predator, and we are very fortunate to get her back alive.”

Barnes, whom police call a "vicious predator," faces a bail hearing Thursday afternoon in Towson, Maryland, where he could decide to fight extradition to Charles City County, Virginia, where investigators say DNA has linked him to the rape of a 16-year-old.

Barnes, 37, would first face charges in the Virginia case before being extradited to face any charges in Philadelphia. The office of the Philadelphia federal prosecutor said charges hadn't been filed as of Thursday in Freeland-Gaither's case.

Delvin Barnes' uncle Lamar Barnes told NBC10 he isn't "necessarily surprised" by the accusations against his nephew, even though his nephew was raised by good parents and his father is a minister.

"Some men grew up having problems with women, so they take it out on women," Barnes said. "Apparently, he's one of them."

Barnes was convicted in 2006 of a handful of charges after he was accused of holding his estranged wife captive and raping her in her Philadelphia home, court documents show.

On Nov. 28, 2005, Barnes jumped out of her bedroom closet and tried to talk to his estranged wife shortly after she returned home, according to records. She had a protective order against Barnes due to previous abuse and she told him to leave or she would call police, but Barnes refused, according to court records.

As she went to call 911, Barnes attacked her and threatened to kill her, according to court documents.

Barnes then told her he would only stop beating her if she took off her clothes, according to investigators. The woman told police she removed her clothes, fearing for her life. She accused Barnes of forcing her to have sex with him three separate times throughout the night, and she told police Barnes forced her to give him oral sex and threatened her with several objects.

The next morning, the woman begged Barnes to let her use the phone and call her parents, telling him she talked to her mother everyday, officials said. As she spoke to her mom, she was able to indicate she was in trouble and told her mother to call 911, according to investigators.

A short time later, the woman’s mother and father walked into the home. As he heard them come in, Barnes, enraged, began to beat the victim again, according to court records. Barnes also allegedly beat the victim’s mother, ran into the kitchen and grabbed a knife.

The women escaped, and police caught up to Barnes the next day.

Barnes faced a slew of charges in that alleged attack, including rape, burglary and assault, according to court records.

Barnes was acquitted at trial of the most serious charges, including rape, burglary and attempted involuntary deviant sexual intercourse. He was convicted, however, of aggravated assault, criminal trespassing, false imprisonment, simple assault and reckless endangerment, and he was sentenced to up to eight years in prison and two years of probation.

He was released a year ago, after serving seven and a half years.

In July, Barnes was arrested and accused of making a bomb threat, a felony. That charge was amended to trespassing, a misdemeanor, and the case was finally dropped Oct. 24, according to court records.

Barnes was recently named a suspect in the abduction, rape and attempted murder of a Virginia teen, and a warrant was issued for Barnes' arrest in Charles City County, Virginia.

On Oct. 3, the teen arrived at a business on Route 106 in Charles City County, two miles from Barnes' home, naked and covered in burns from gasoline and bleach, police said. She had been reported missing two days earlier.

Federal authorities said the charges for that case attempted capital murder, assault, malicious injury with acid, rape and other related offenses.

It could be some time until authorities reveal what charges Barnes could face in the Philadelphia abduction.

Fox Exec's Remains Investigation


Investigators are "optimistic" about an arrest in the case of a Fox executive who disappeared two years ago after last month's discovery of his remains in the high desert north of Los Angeles.

Authorities said they believe Gavin Smith was killed on the night he vanished in May 2012. The Los Angeles County Coroner's office confirmed Wednesday that remains found by hikers Oct. 26 in a remote area of Palmdale near Acton are those of the 57-year-old.

"The investigation at this time is ongoing," said Lt. Dave Dolson, of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. "Because of the discovery of the remains, there's potentially a lot more evidence for us to process."

Dolson said investigators have not identified a suspect in the case.

"It's a crucial piece of evidence," Dolson said of the remains. "Examination of the body will hopefully lead us to additional leads and potentially help solidify an arrest of the person or persons responsible.

"It puts us closer."

Investigators said they are waiting for autopsy results to determine a cause of death.

"It was brought up that he suffered from gunshot wounds," Dolson said. "We haven't ruled that out, but we don't believe at this time that that was in play."

The October discovery was in a remote area south of Palmdale that had been searched before in connection with Smith's death, Dolson said. The Antelope Valley Press reported that a family discovered a skull, a shallow grave and clothing that day while hiking in the same area. The skull was found by the Rocky Ramos' Palmdale Labrador retriever about 20 feet from the grave.

"I find all kinds of stuff up here," said Rocky Ramos. "But nothing like that."

The skull's lower jaw was missing and there appeared to be a hole, about an inch or more across, in the skull, Ramos said.

Smith disappeared May 1, 2012. He was last seen driving his black Mercedes-Benz 420E from a friend's home in the Oak Park area at the western end of Los Angeles between 9 and 10 p.m. He was reported missing the next day after failing to pick up his children from school, according to the sheriff's department.

The car was found Feb. 21, 2013 at a Simi Valley storage facility in Simi Valley connected to convicted drug dealer John Creech.

"After examining Gavin's car we were confidently able to label Gavin's death a homicide," Dolson said.

Creech was named a person of interest in the case and is currently in custody on a drug charge at the Men's Central Jail. During a news conference Thursday, investigators confirmed that Creech remains a person of interest.

Creech has not been charged in connection with the Smith case.

Dolson was asked during the news conference about the nature of the relationship between Creech's wife and Smith. He refused to provide details.

"We have a pretty good picture," Dolson said. "Gavin knew Mr. Creech's wife."

Smith was a basketball player on the 1975 UCLA championship team led by legendary coach John Wooden. Smith went on to become an actor and later a film executive at 20th Century Fox.

Smith is survived by three sons.


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Harvard Secretly Took Student Pics


Harvard University has admitted to secretly photographing students in classes in 10 lecture halls, in which more than 2,000 students were enrolled, as part of a study of classroom attendance.

Harvard President Drew Faust says that she takes this matter "very seriously" and will have the case reviewed.

The findings of the study were apparently released at a conference this fall, but the researchers never revealed how the data was collected.

The study was done by Harvard's Initiative for Learning and Teaching, which is overseen by Vice Provost Peter Bol, and was authorized by the school's Institutional Review Board.

"Professor Bol has reached out to every faculty member involved and has already spoken in person to all but two. He will continue that effort to ensure that the faculty have full details," the school said in a statement.

"In addition, he has committed to informing every student – using enrollment data – whose image may have been captured anonymously and subsequently destroyed as part of the research," it added.

The researchers say the study was not designed to trick or identify individual students. The images have all been destroyed, and only the data was kept for research use, Bol said.

The latest revelations come a year and a half after the university apparently searched thousands of Harvard email accounts secretly. That prompted the Ivy League school to implement new privacy policies on electronic communications.

Photo Credit: NECN

Record Number of Booster Seats Are "Best Bets": IIHS


A record number of booster seats have earned the highest rating for safety belt fit from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Out of the 41 models the agency tested, 27 earned the "best bet" designation while three were deemed "good bets."

The evaluations are based on how three-point lap and shoulder belts fit a child-size test dummy under various conditions. Crash tests were not a part of the review. The recommended seats position your child so that the seat belt is snug and safe for them in almost every car.

Booster seats that fell into the "check fit" category may provide a good belt fit for some children in some vehicles, but not as many as the boosters that earned a higher ranking, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says.

The following booster seats were named "best bets" for safety belt fit for 2014:

  • Baby Trend Hybrid 3-in-1 (backless mode)
  • Baby Trend Hybrid No Back (backless)
  • Britax Frontier 90 (highback)
  • Britax Pinnacle 90 (highback)
  • Britax Pioneer 70 (highback)
  • BubbleBum Neon (backless)
  • Cybex Solution X-Fix (highback)
  • Diono Solana (backless)
  • Dream On Me Turbo Booster (highback mode)
  • Eddie Bauer Deluxe Belt-Positioning Booster (highback mode)
  • Eddie Bauer Deluxe Highback 65 (highback)
  • Evenflo Chase (highback)
  • Evenflo Symphony 65 (highback)
  • Graco Argos 80 Elite 3-in-1 (backless mode)
  • Graco Argos 80 Elite 3-in-1 (highback mode)
  • Graco 4Ever All-in-1 (backless mode)
  • Graco 4Ever All-in-1 (highback mode)
  • Graco Milestone All-in-1 (highback)
  • Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 with Safety Surround (highback mode)
  • Kids Embrace Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (highback)
  • Maxi-Cosi Rodi AP (highback mode)
  • Maxi-Cosi RodiFix (highback)
  • Peg Perego Viaggio HBB 120 (highback mode)
  • Recaro Performance Booster (highback)Safety 1st Store ’n Go (highback mode)
  • Safety 1st Store ’n Go No-Back (backless)
  • Safety 1st Summit 65 (highback)

The IIHS says the following booster seats are "good bets:"

  • Baby Trend Hybrid 3-in-1 (highback mode)
  • Cybex Solution Q-Fix (highback)
  • Diono Rainier (highback)

Eight booster seats fell into the "check fit" category:

  • Dream On Me Coupe Booster (backless)
  • Dream On Me Turbo Booster (backless mode)
  • Eddie Bauer Deluxe Belt-Positioning Booster (backless mode)
  • Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 with Safety Surround (backless mode)
  • Harmony Folding Travel Booster (highback)
  • Maxi-Cosi Rodi AP (backless mode)
  • Peg Perego Viaggio HBB 120 (backless mode)
  • Safety 1st Store ’n Go (backless mode)

Three booster seats were not recommended by the IIHS:

  • Diono Olympia (highback)
  • Diono Pacifica (highback)
  • Kids Embrace Batman No Back Booster (backless)

GOP Wins in Blue States Could Boost Christie's Profile


The Republican triumphs on Tuesday extended beyond Congress to victories in blue state governors’ races, and those successes could benefit New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association and a potential presidential candidate in 2016.

But the gubernatorial wins, even while good news for possible candidates, probably say less about the mood of the voters than the results in Senate and House races. Whatever the reasons for the Congressional midterm rout — anger over gridlock in Washington, D.C., worries about the economy or dissatisfaction with the Obama administration — analysts say that voters are typically less ideological and more pragmatic when picking a governor.

"With senators, people often vote pure ideology," said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. "With governors, party and ideology play a big role but people evaluate candidates differently."

Voters want to be convinced that the candidates have the managerial skills to lead a state, he said.

"They really do look at them as their 'little president,'" he said. 

On Tuesday, the GOP increased the number of governorships it holds from 29 to 31.

Republicans will replace Democrats in Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts and beat back opponents elsewhere, including Florida, Iowa, Maine, New Mexico, Ohio and Wisconsin. In Texas, Republican state Attorney General Greg Abbott outpolled state Sen. Wendy Davis to replace outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Perry.

At the same time, Democrats held onto the office in Colorado and Connecticut and picked up Pennsylvania, where Democrat Tom Wolf beat Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.

Still undecided is the race in Vermont, where a strong challenge to Gov. Peter Shumlin by Scott Milne means the state's Legislature will decide the winner in January. Democrats control both houses, which have by tradition gone with the candidate with the most votes when no candidate received 50 percent of the vote. Shumlin maintains a small lead.

Also too close to call is Alaska where challenger Bill Walker, a Republican turned independent, has a slight lead over Republican Gov. Sean Parnell. Absentee and early votes must still be counted.

“It just seems like such a mixed bag of results,” said Dianne Bystrom, director of Iowa State University's Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics.

Some of the Republican wins might have been a result of a general mood of discontent, partly with the economy despite indications of improvements, she said. 

“People aren’t feeling it in their heart and souls that things are getting any better and will be better,” she said. “So I think there’s just a general political malaise sort of sweeping the country, that they're just fed up."

Illinois’ race was largely about the economy, said Jennifer Duffy, a senior editor at The Cook Political Report. Gov. Pat Quinn’s attempted solution — one of the largest tax increases in the state’s history — was not successful and voters wanted a different approach, she said.

But Duffy attributed Democrats’ loss in the Massachusetts gubernatorial race to the lethargic effort by state Attorney General Martha Coakley after the primary. By contrast, Republican Charlie Baker had been campaigning since losing to Gov. Deval Patrick in 2010, she said.

“Governors’ races tend to exist in their own orbit,” Duffy said.

The most surprising race was in Maryland, where Republican businessman Larry Hogan defeated Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, she and Sabato said.

“You figure in a state as overwhelmingly Democratic as Maryland the guy would be able to win,” Sabato said.

Kelly Dittmar, a scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics, said that the overall Republican success might be attributed to better mobilization of voters.

“Maybe that tells part of the story in some of these races,” she said.

As far as the number of women governors, the tally stayed the same at five, she said.

The Republican Governors Assocation outraised its Democratic counterpart by more than two-to-one, according to the latest tallies — $102 million by Christie compared to $47 million for the Democratic chairman, Shumlin.

The Republicans successes are a boost for Christie, who has now spent lots of time in states important for the 2016 presidential race, said Lee Miringoff, the director the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He criss-crossed the country for his fellow governors, visiting 37 states this year, some of them many times.

"When you’re out campaigning for president, you want a nice welcome mat from the sitting governor," he said.

Republicans hold Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan, all states Democrats would want to do well in, he said. Christie not only worked for the election of those governors, but also met other influential residents while visiting, Miringoff said.

And Tuesday's numbers helped to mute speculation that controversy over lane closures and subsequent traffic snarls on the George Washington Bridge — the so-called Bridgegate — had hurt Christie's effectiveness, he said.

"He's a big winner for Tuesday within the Republican party ranks should he decide to toss his proverbial hat in the ring," he said.

"He's done the introduction, now it will be reacquaint, not only the governor but I'm sure many of the folks he was at events with," he said. "In an earlier era, we would say he built a nice Rolodex."

Christie downplayed his role on the "Today" show, saying the credit belonged to the candidates. He told Matt Lauer on Wednesday that he had not decided whether to run for president.

"It's not about me," Christie said. "I was happy to help. I'm glad to have their confidence, but that’s all it is."

Besides the advantage for Christie's prospects, the results could also help Wisconsin’s Gov. Rick Scott and Ohio’s Gov. John Kasich, both of whom have been talked about as possible Republican candidates. Both were victorious Tuesday.

But on Democratic side, the loss in Maryland damaged former Gov. Martin O’Malley’s chance at his party’s nomination, Sabato said.

“He killed his candidacy for president, too,” Sabato said. “Nobody’s going to take that seriously now.” 

Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, said the results affirmed Republican leadership even in the bluest of blue states.

"Even the president's home state, where he campaigned vigorously, elected a Republican, and that's how big this victory really is," he said at a news conference.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Fire Prompts Early Dismissal at Hartford Public High


Students were dismissed from Hartford Public High School shortly before 12:30 p.m. Thursday after a small fire broke out in the boys' bathroom, according to a spokesperson for the school system.

School officials said black smoke flooded the second floor, prompting evacuations around 11 a.m. when the fire was discovered.

Students and staff were safe and the fire was quickly beaten down. The Hartford Fire Department recommended early dismissal due to smoke in the building, according to the school system.

Hartford police are investigating the fire. Authorities have not released any information on the cause.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Willimantic School Van Driver Charged With DUI After Crash


A school van driver in Willimantic is facing DUI charges for the September crash that sent four students to the hospital.

Police said 52-year-old Catherine Caron, of Scotland, Connecticut, was driving a van for the regional transportation service EASTCONN when she struck a pole in the area of 90 Quarry Street in Willimantic on Sept. 10.

Four children between the ages of 8 and 15 were riding in the van with Caron, who was driving them to Windham High School, Windham Middle School and Natchaug Elementary School, according to an EASTCONN spokesperson.

A Willimantic resident who identified herself as the students' grandmother said the day of the crash was the first time the siblings had taken the van to school.

Caron and the students were treated for "bumps and bruises" at Windham Hospital but were not seriously hurt, according to police.

"We were very fortunate with this investigation. This accident could have turned tragic very, very quickly," said Willimantic police spokesman Cpl. Stan Parizo, Jr. "This borderlines on egregious behavior. It's far beyond irresponsible to be under the influence and to be driving around students in a school van."

Caron was arrested Nov. 6 and charged with driving under the influence, possession of a controlled substance and risk of injury.

She was placed on paid administrative leave after the crash and has since been fired, according to EASTCONN. Caron worked for the transportation service for 10 years and was in "good standing" prior to the incident.

Representatives for EASTCONN called the situation a "deeply regrettable, concerning event" and said all drivers undergo "an intensive training program" with yearly refreshers. They are fingerprinted and background checked.

"I personally think that EASTCONN should probably monitor who they are hiring a little more," said Kristen Morang, the parent of a student who uses EASTCONN transportation. "If they are not doing random drug testing and alcohol testing, I think they should implement that."

EASTCONN officials said they're taking a close look at their training process and will consider making changes.

"As part of our ongoing work to continuously improve training practices and procedures, we are reviewing our driver-training program," EASTCONN said in a statement Thursday.

Caron was released on $10,000 bond and is due in court Nov. 17.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com/Willimantic Police Department

Three Suspicious Fires in Three Days in Enfield


After a barn burned to the ground Thursday morning, fire officials continue to investigate a string of "suspicious" fires in a neighborhood in the Hazardville section of Enfield.

Fire officials responded to a barn fire on Elm Street at about 2 a.m. on Thursday. No one was home and there were no injuries.

That was one of three fires that have broken out in the past three days and there was also another one at the corner of Elm Street and Martin Terrace in late August.. The Hazardville Fire District posted on Facebook that there have been "a number of arson fires" in the Elm Street area near Martin Terrace over the past couple years, mostly "small brush fires, shed fires, and storage builcings.

Fire officials said they don't know if the blazes in a 300-yard radius are connected  or set by the same person, but they are looking into the possibility that they were arson.

"As far as the fire department and police are concerned, it's just a matter of time if this individual or these individuals continue to get away with it, what’s next? That’s the fear," Mark Zarcaro, an Enfield fire spokesperson, said.

There was another fire across the street from the barn at a vacant home that was out by the time firefighters got there. But investigators found matches and other evidence that someone set the fire intentionally.

Flames also broke out around the corner at a home on Martin Terrace Tuesday.

Investigators have interviewed a person of interest, but no arrests have been made at this time.

Fire officials said that the arsonist(s) seem to be targeting vacant properties.

Police have stepped up patrols in the area.

Fire officials ask anyone with information to call the state arson tip line at 1-800-842-7766 (1-800-84A-RSON) or the fire marshal at 860-749-8114. There will be a reward for anyone who shares information on the tip line that leads to "the arrest and conviction of arson fires."

Photo Credit: Enfield Fire Department

Fairfield Police Chief Back to Work After Crash


Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara is back at work, if only for a few hours, two weeks after he was rear-ended on Reef Road and had to be pulled from his cruiser.

“It was a pretty violent episode, the kind of accident you wouldn't expect to happen in that area of town,” said MacNamara.

The crash did a number on him. MacNamara has been recovering at home, but was itching to return to work, if only for a few hours a day.

“I did have some head trauma, so I think I have to gradually ease into it. The computer screen, and other issues, are going to, at some point, maybe create a long-term agony if I continue with it," said MacNamara. "So I'll step away, do things a little different for the next couple weeks than I normally do it.”

MacNamara said the outpouring of support he's received has been both heartwarming and humbling.

“I've never really been put in that position of victim of an accident in that way, so after the crash, having to sit there and kind of being a little out of it, but watching the response, watching the response of police, watching the response of firefighters, and the ambulance personnel, really gives you a different perspective on what it is that they're doing every single day,” said MacNamara.

Fairfield police are still investigating the crash with the help of state police. Lt. Jim Perez said the driver, who had her 7-month-old child in the backseat and did not hit the brakes, might have suffered a medical problem.

“We thought originally that it might have been alcohol or drugs, but we know that's not the case. We thought it might have been texting. We're leaning now toward medical, although I can't go into further detail because the investigation is still ongoing,” Perez said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

2015 New London Mayor's Race Already Taking Shape


Seven months ago, New London’s first ever elected mayor told the city council that he had decided not to seek a second term.

Members of the city council thought he wasn’t serious. At the time, Councilor Anthony Nolan told the The Day of New London, “At first we thought it was an April Fool’s Joke.”

Seven months later, the joke is apparently on the city council, as Mayor Daryl Finizio announced that he would, in fact, seek a second term in office.

“These plans are going to take three to five more years to complete and I feel that since I started them I should stick around to finish the job,” Finizio said during an interview Thursday.

The plans he’s talking about have to do with six ballot measures that voters approved on Election Day earlier in the week. They included a $168 million bond issue and the plan to the city’s school system the first in the state to feature only magnet schools.

In addition to wanting to shepherd New London through the new ventures, Finizio said he’s responsible for the city getting its fiscal house in order.

“I balanced the budget two years in a row and the budget that was adopted on Tuesday will be balanced this year as well,” Finizio said. "That’s three years of balanced budgets after decades of deficit spending that brought our city to the fiscal brink.”

Just hours after Finizio made his intentions clear, he already had competition from within his own part.

Democrat Michael Passero, who has sat on the New London City Council since 2008, announced his intention to seek the city’s highest office for the second time.

Four years ago, Passero announced his plans to run for mayor but later withdrew his name from consideration.

“They’re ready for a change in leadership,” Passero said during his campaign kickoff event at Muddy Waters Cafe in downtown New London. “They’re ready for some new energy. I’ve been here my whole life. I think I have the vision, the experience and the leadership to get this done.”

Passero said he wants to bring back into the fold people who helped to improve the city over the years.

“I have a capacity to build coalitions. I have a capacity to build consensus. There’s too much talent in this city that’s been marginalized, that’s been pushed to the sidelines. It’s waiting on the sidelines; it’s waiting to get into the game. I’m prepared to get the momentum going that we had before we changed governments,” Passero said.

Finizio was quick to dismiss the notion of Passero's candidacy, saying that he’s part of the old guard of New London politicians who merely worked to stay in their positions of power rather than improve the city.

“The leadership that I think is being offered by the opposition is leadership that was in place in this city when we ran record deficits, when my opponent voted for budgets that were terribly unbalanced,” Finizio said.

Passero said he wouldn’t categorize Finizio as an enemy. After all, he was happy with his election three years ago. He said he thinks it’s time for a fresh face to run city hall.

“Quite frankly, I never felt as strong an adversarial relationship as he did because I think in many ways, he was creating it," Passero said, "and I’ve been a hundred percent behind the major initiatives that this community is supporting because it’s the community that’s supporting these efforts.”

The race for mayor of New London started in November 2014, one year before any ballots will be cast.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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